Superintendent’s June Report

Superintendent’s Report – June 2022

Information on our COVID-19 Dashboard includes the total cases of identified COVID-19 in the Hinsdale School District each month since the beginning of the school year and the number of active cases by school in our District.   Since the beginning of the school year we have had 238 known cases of COVID-19 in the District, 128 cases have been at Hinsdale Elementary School and 110 cases have been at Hinsdale Middle/High School.   As of June 13th we had one active case of COVID-19 reported among students or staff in the Hinsdale School District. The majority of positive cases in the Hinsdale School District this school year occurred in January.   We have had 271 new cases of COVID-19 in Cheshire County over the past 14 days.   Currently, Cheshire County is in the high community transmission level as defined by the CDC.

We are still having difficulty filling all our open positions for next year.   We have advertised in five area newspapers, local radio, and have numerous electronic posts including the web sites of 59 New England colleges. In addition, HR plans to attend a job fair in Brattleboro on June 17th.   Administration has set a meeting for July 18th to determine if a plan that includes some reorganization is needed.  If so, administration would present the plan to the Board at the July 27th Board meeting.

We continue to fund approved activities through our three federal ESSER grants.  As always we continue to welcome public input regarding potential expenditures related to any of our three ESSER grants. At the April 13th Hinsdale School Board meeting the Board approved new ESSER spending for the 2022/2023 school year.  The Board also approved the changes that resulted in the savings of $136,190 from previously Board approved “up to” amounts for ESSER III activities.  All of the Board approved requests have been approved by the New Hampshire Department of Education.  At the June 8th Board meeting an up to amount of $10,000 was approved by the Board from ESSER III funds to assist in the support for the students social emotional learning needs for the 2022/2023 school year.

To date our allocation for our ESSER III grant (American Rescue Plan) is $1,929,462.25. We have until 9/30/24 to expend these funds.  Any funds remaining after 9/30/2024 will be sent back to the state to be distributed to other districts. Our previously approved ESSER III allocation includes funds for library books and books for students to take home, a school district network upgrade, a social emotional learning program for the middle/high school and related stipends for teachers to become trained, after school tutoring and after school bus transportation, NH Dance Institute Residency program, job embedded professional development – teachers will be released for this while students work with contracted service provider on social emotional learning, a graduate curriculum and leadership program through Keene State College. In addition, we have hired a middle/high school math interventionist and a middle/high school literacy interventionist, a part-time literacy coach at Hinsdale Elementary School, behavioral services support program, funds to support an ESSER III grant manager and funds for an ESSER III grant accountant. We intend to add the expense of two printers into the grant. We also included a social emotional learning related out-of-district placement that is a result of the pandemic. We also added expenses related to rapid COVID-19 tests, and expenses related to hiring a substitute nurse. At this time the State has discontinued free COVID-19 tests.

We have a total allocation of $858,280.07 for our ESSER II grant (American Recovery Plan). These grant funds must be spent by 9/30/23 or the remaining funds will be distributed to other districts in the state. Our approved ESSER II expenses include the following: cleaning supplies, portable storage units, professional development with New Hampshire Learning Initiative, grant management, stipends for professional development, a social worker assistant, an increase in pay for substitutes, one full time substitute in each building, funds to offset Covid-19 related substitute costs, a COVID custodian, summer school staffing, copiers, Keys to Literacy training and coaching, laptops, smartboards, document cameras, offsite backup, general supplies, special education compensatory education staffing, a Life Skills Program paraprofessional, and out-of-district special education tuition and transportation.

Our ESSER I grant (CARES Act) of $188,678.75 needs to be expended by September 30, 2022. To date we have expended funds from ESSER I for the following items: books to support remote learning, supplies to minimize spread of pathogens, storage for excess furniture, special education transportation, special education purchased services, and special education staff time, out of district special education tuition, substitute teachers, social worker assistant at HES, laptops for students and staff, increased internet bandwidth, webcams and related wiring. We have spent almost all our ESSER I funds.

 2021-2022 District Goals (The Board intends to meet prior to the fall term to develop a Board strategic plan)

  1. Curriculum and Instruction

 The team leader is our Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Karen Thompson. Team members include our HMHS Principal, our HES Principal, our Director of Student Services and our HES Special Education Coordinator.

 Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment organized the May 27th professional development day to further the professional growth for our teachers.  She has also started the planning process for our August workshop days.

Our student ELO Exhibition Day on May 26 was a success. The event was covered well by the “Brattleboro Reformer.” 

Establish continuity and collaboration in instruction between the school buildings.

 We have established a transition team that includes 5th grade teachers and middle school teachers. The team intends to meet 2-3 times a year.

 Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

Our Professional Development Master Plan is due this year and our Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment is in the process of leading the effort of our staff development committee to accomplish this state mandate.

Performance Assessment -All grade levels will move towards performance assessment and enhanced personalized learning.

 We are using grant funds to contract with New Hampshire Learning Initiative to strengthen our efforts related to personalized learning. We recently received a $250,000 five-year “Out of School Time Career Pathways Program Grant.”  Only four districts in New Hampshire received these grant funds. The largest district to receive this grant was Manchester and the smallest district was Hinsdale. This grant will assist students in attaining credentialing in high-tech manufacturing, science related fields, technology, engineering, and math related fields. This grant will allow our students to participate in paid internships while gaining skills and knowledge towards an industry recognized credential. Our grant program in Hinsdale will build upon our established Extended Learning Opportunity program and will help to implement opportunities that are not always available in our current Extended Learning Opportunity program structure.

  1. Communication

 The team leader is our Director of HR, Ann Diorio. Team members include our HMHS Principal and her assistant, our HES Principal, our Director of Student Services, our Director of Technology and, as needed, the Superintendent.

 Improve overall communication.

 We continue to update our community regularity regarding our COVID-19 status. We update our COVID-19 Dashboard during each school day.

The Hinsdale School Board approved a Revised Communications Plan at the June 8th Board meeting.

  1. Culture

 The team leader for our Culture Goal is our HMHS Principal, Ann Freitag. Team members include our HES Principal, our Director of Student Services and our HES Special Education Coordinator.  

Promote a culture of kindness and open communication. 

Both principals are leading efforts in their respective building to identify and reward students and staff who show exemplary kindness and caring.

Our Manager of Human Resources has been sending out an uplifting note to staff each Friday. Both principals are communicating regularly with staff and frequently including uplifting messages.

 Ensure clear behavioral expectations are communicated and followed up on regularly through the development and implementation of a district-wide behavior plan, the progress of which will be reported to the Board monthly by the Superintendent.

 Our school behavior support teams and our district-wide behavior support team have been meeting regularly to facilitate the creation and implementation of a district-wide behavior plan. The pandemic has been difficult for many of our students. Dealing with the unseen threat of COVID while continuing to regulate emotions and learning to work well with others has been especially difficult. This issue is nationwide.

Promote an atmosphere that supports an inclusive, professional learning community.

We are working with NHLI to improve the PLC component of our organization. We are paying for NHDI from ESSER III funding. Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment has recently been trained in using the Professional Learning Community model to improve student learning outcomes.

Support and promote anti-bullying practices and ensure policies are being followed. Superintendent will spot check the bullying logs and report monthly to the Board.

We had two substantiated reports of bullying at HMHS since our May Board meeting. We have had no substantiated report of bullying at HES since our May Board meeting.

 Support the implementation of a diversity plan that can be integrated throughout the district.

The Diversity Committee has created a “complaint form which was approved by the Board at the February Board meeting.

The students at HMHS have created a diversity club to help with suggestions to make the school more welcoming and inclusive, from a student point of view.

Our Diversity Committee is working to revise our plan to make certain our plan is in alignment with House Bill 297 and HB 298. The chair of our Diversity Committee organized a workshop for staff. The workshop “Prohibited Concepts in the Classroom” was taught by a New Hampshire attorney who is familiar with the new state mandate.

  1. Personnel

The team leader is our Director of HR, Ann Diorio. Team members include our HMHS Principal, our HES Principal, our Director of Student Services and our HMHS Assistant Principal.

 Support initiatives to recruit and retain professional, high-quality staff that are innovative, dynamic and dedicated to the success of all students.

  1. Financial

 The team leader is our Business Administrator, Jodie Holmquist. Team members include our HMHS Principal, our HES Principal, our Director of Human Resources and the Superintendent.  

Support ways to conduct business in the most efficient and effective manner.

We are currently investigating the process of a “zero based budgeting” approach which if approved by the School Board would be implemented next year.

  1. Security

The team leader is our HMHS Assistant Principal, Chris Ponce. Team members include our HES Principal, our Network Administrator, and our School Resource Officer.

 Continue to review security audit information and move forward, in a fiscally responsible manner, to ensure our buildings are secure and our students and staff are safe.

The new Hinsdale detective and our police chief did a walk-through of the buildings.  It was determined that a couple of rooms needed the security placards which could be viewed outside. Since our last Board meeting we held a couple of drills at HMHS including: a hold in place and a lockdown drill.

We intend to review several grant funded safety and security proposals at our Facilities Committee meeting scheduled for June 17th.

A Student Violence and Prevention Management plan has been drafted.  This will be reviewed at the upcoming Facilities meeting.

We are using grant funds to relocate a fire alarm at HES which should improve safety at the building.

  1. Technology

 The team leader is our Director of Technology, Debbie Trabucco, Team members include our Network Administrator and our Tech Support Specialist.

 Continue to align the district budget to support the 5-year tech plan.

At the December 8, 2021, Board meeting the Board approved a one-year extension to the plan with a 5-0 vote.  The thought was this would provide time for the new Director of Technology to work on a new plan with the technology committee.

Ensure all staff has access to pertinent trainings.

We have provided monthly cyber security training using KnowBe4 that is required of all staff.  I have also sent emails to staff that come my way via email throughout the school year regarding training pertinent to technology.  As a team we have provided individual training including SharePoint usage, O365, document cameras, and Tech Tip Tuesday mini training emails.  I have also been training individual users including Ms. Thompson on technology related to assessment and Mr. Therieau on a variety of topics including PowerSchool, i4see, phone system, door access.

  1. Facilities

The team leader is our Business Administrator, Jodie Holmquist. Team members include our Director of Buildings and Grounds and the Superintendent.

Fully utilize all building spaces.

We continue to use almost all our available spaces for our education program. We are still doing our best to make certain our students are separated at least three feet.  Our custodians are separating desks whenever they see the desks are too close together.

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